Digital Artist and Filmmaker Scott Ligon has written his first book called "Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop", published by Watson-Guptill, a subsidiary of Random House, the premier publisher in books. “Digital Art Revolution” is a book that teaches digital art from a true “fine art” perspective. This is not a book that teaches readers to process photos in order to mimic various styles from art history. This is a book that familiarizes the readers with the fundaments of the visual language and then shows them how to apply these principals to digital art. This book focuses on a mere portion of this vast spectrum of possibilities: two-dimensional fine art created with the help of Photoshop. It offers specific instruction within the perspective of a larger context of possibilities. This book should give you a working knowledge of Photoshop and put this instruction in a perspective that encourages you to develop your own unique voice in doing so.


Introduction: Welcome to the Revolution

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “Digital technology offers the single, greatest advancement in the possibilities inherent in art-making since, well, art-making began. Most of this introduction is devoted to five key reasons why digital technology is redefining the creative process. We will look at how it: (1) blurs the boundaries between mediums to the point of irrelevance, (2) possesses potential for endless experimentation and variation, (3) allows for infinite duplication with no loss of quality, (4) is able to reach large audiences directly with no middleman, and (5) contains no inherent aesthetic or technical limitations. It also addresses some of the fears and misconceptions associated with “new media” and gives you some basic information about the organization of the book. Welcome to the revolution! Now, let’s look closely at some of the reasons why and how digital art is causing a revolution...”

Chapter One: Understanding the Visual Language

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt:The principles of design and visual communication have been refined and developed for thousands of years in service of artistic expression. These principles must be understood in order to make outstanding digital art. This chapter is a crash course on the principles of the visual language. Any one of these principles could support an entire book by itself, and yet it’s remarkable how easily these principals can be explained and understood when reduced to their bare essentials. Before we devote the rest of the book to learning specific ways in which we can create digital art in Photoshop, we’ll first need to learn how artists use this universal language to communicate a quality, or feeling, that resonates with the viewer—in addition to producing something unique and personal.”

Chapter Two: Meet Photoshop

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “In the previous chapter we learned about the elements of the visual language and how to apply them for expressive purposes. In the exercises in this book, these visual elements will be created or manipulated using Adobe Photoshop. This chapter contains an overview of the Photoshop interface as it pertains to the projects in this book. The capabilities found within Photoshop will be your tools for personal expression, and they offer a vast array of creative possibilities. Once you understand the basics, you will face the enviable task of using your imagination in developing unique and individual ways to apply these powerful tools.”

Chapter Three: Photo Basics

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “Simple enhancement of photographic images is a good way to begin our work. Instruction in this chapter involves modifying the color and value of an entire image, or individual elements, for clarity and visual interest. This chapter will address the use of atmospheric perspective to convey a sense of depth and to further clarify an image. We’ll learn about using the retouching tools in Photoshop, which can be used to de-emphasize human imperfections, of course, but they can also be used to remove extraneous elements in order to improve and clarify a composition. As in chapter two, we will learn how to use many of the fundamental tools of Photoshop and how to exercise creative judgment in their use. You’ll continue to use these tools in more complex and creative projects later in the book.”

Chapter Four: Compositing- The Illusion of Reality

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “Compositing refers to an image created by assembling various elements from different sources and combining them into a single unified composition. In this chapter we will work with photos from different sources and then alter and combine them into a single, consistent image that appears to be a realistic environment. It will appear as if we are viewing a photograph of a scene that is actually occurring. Regardless of whether or not (1) the photo appears within a surreal or everyday environment and (2) the subject is mundane or far-fetched, the final image should create the impression that you are viewing a moment in time captured by a “camera.” Careful use of selection masking, layers, image adjustment, and retouching tools will be paramount in maintaining the illusion.”

Chapter Five: Expressive (Nonrealistic) Photo Art

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “Visual artists have a long history of distorting, or changing, an image’s elements for expressive effect and compositional clarity. Even the most realistically representational artists are likely to modify what they see in front of them, both for compositional purposes and to emphasize qualities they wish to convey in the work. Many visual artists distort elements in more extreme ways. They abandon the illusion of external reality in favor of creating something that reflects a more personal, subjective inner reality. Individual elements can be distorted, stretched, and manipulated. Colors can be exaggerated, changed, or de-emphasized in a way that is appropriate to the ideas in the work. Elements can be made more sharp and angular, or be manipulated into soft curving shapes. When experienced artists create such a work, they use compositional themes in the treatment of elements. Establishing consistency in the way similar elements are treated within a composition makes us feel like these elements belong there. With digital images, everything is paint. Using the vast array of tools available in Photoshop, photographic materials can be altered to appear as if they are no longer merely representations of reality but rather elements of personal expression that are distinctive and consistent in treatment and evocative of a certain emotion or quality that is discernable to the viewer. The instruction in this chapter focuses on photographic images, or pieces of images. Rather than an attempt at creating the illusion of reality, successful completion of these projects involves using the elements of design for expressive effect. Elements should be modified in a way that supports the overall mood, quality, or emotional timbre of the piece, with consistent visual themes among the elements.”

Chapter Six: Painting with Pixels

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “Using Photoshop and a drawing tablet with a pressure-sensitive pen allows you, with practice, to produce a very painterly, textural, organic piece of work that is virtually indistinguishable from physical paint. More importantly, it offers fascinating, new possibilities that are combined with the ability to endlessly experiment or “undo” when the results are unsuccessful. Since there is no mess, clean up, or drying time, you can grab a laptop and tablet and paint anywhere, anytime! This chapter, the first on digital painting, covers the basics of the painting tools and pixel-based painting techniques available in Photoshop. In the exercise we will first explore the time-honored tradition of creating an underpainting and then gradually build up tone and color using multiple layers of semitransparent “paint” from our digital tools.”

Chapter Seven: Painting with Shapes

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “In chapter six we focused on digital painting using organic methods and a steady hand to create painted images. There is a second approach to digital painting which involves geometric shapes, smooth curves, straight lines with perfect edges, flat colors, and smooth, gradual blending of one color into another. Photoshop offers many tools and options for creating this kind of work using both raster (pixel-based) and vector elements. The lessons in this chapter focus on the creation of images using a flat, geometricized approach.”

Chapter Eight: Mixing Paint, Photos, and Everything Else

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “Collage is the assembly of elements from different sources that are combined into a single, cohesive work. Arguably, the greatest benefit of digital art as a medium of expression lies in its limitless depth of unique possibilities for this synthesis of information and ideas. Regardless of where an element comes from, once inside the computer it is reduced to binary ones and zeros. Once an image enters the digital realm, it is converted into tiny pixels, each with a single color and value. Here, then, is where we get to use any or all of the tools and techniques we have learned thus far and combine them in a unique, personal manner, choosing from an infinite array of possibilities. You are only limited by your imagination. In this chapter we’ll talk about gathering materials and how to integrate and repurpose non–art-related documents into your work, as well as how to combine photographic techniques with digital paint. We’ll also look at some artists who routinely integrate a number of techniques and materials from varied sources into their works.”

Chapter Nine: Finding Your Own Voice

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “What does “mining a vein” mean? It means picking certain stylistic elements and themes that interest you and then committing to them for a while. It means using variations of these themes in all of your works. What happens is that the more you practice these parameters, the better you get at them. Just as flowing water gradually polishes a stone by wearing off the rough edges, you refine your style over time. You eliminate the things that don’t work. You practice the things that do work until they reach their full potential. You add new things that keep you off balance and interested, which, in turn, helps your work grow, change, and keep people interested. Commitment does not imply stagnation. Your work will evolve naturally over time until your mature work is quite different from where you started. You can add to your stylistic parameters as you progress and widen your visual palette. Some artists may occasionally feel stuck and will throw everything out and start mining a new vein. We call this reinventing yourself. If you start every work as a novice with no reference point, you cannot progress. It’s something of a paradox, but by choosing limitations (a commitment to a certain way of doing things), you develop an individual voice. Something unique comes out of your exploration and from the choices you make and how those choices develop with repeated application. Only when you become adept at your basic techniques and can do them without thinking will you be able to concentrate on the creative part of your work—and that’s when something really interesting can happen. If you have done this successfully, I will be able look at your work and recognize it as yours, because your particular use of the time-honored elements of the visual language will have become unique and distinctive. Your style will become your voice.”

Chapter Ten: Into the Real World

Digital art from Digital Art Revolution, Creating Fine Art with Photoshop
Excerpt: “In order for people to see your work, it must manifest itself in some form in the physical world. Essentially, the possible methods of presenting your digital artwork are: (1) making a physical print of your image; (2) projecting it onto a wall, screen, or other object such as a sculptural installation; or (3) displaying it on some sort of a video monitor. When it is projected or displayed on a video monitor, it’s also possible for artwork to move or interact with the viewer. Once you have brought your work into the real world, it can be combined with traditional mediums such as painting or sculpture. It is also possible to capture traditional artwork through scanning or photography, and then bring the real world into the digital domain for further manipulation. This chapter will discuss some of the possibilities of integrating your digital art with the real world. 

What’s in the Book?

This is a different version of our book video with a lot more information. It’s about 7 min.